Slips, trips, and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents (US Dept. of Labor), and is the second leading cause of accidental death (behind motor vehicles). More common injuries occurred are sprains, strains, bruises, contusions, fractures, abrasions, and lacerations. The body parts most frequently injured include: knee, ankle, foot, wrist, elbow, back, shoulder, hip, and head. Slips, trips, and falls can usually be prevented by taking precautions.
Slips Slips are the result of lost balance due to poor friction or traction between feet (footwear), typically on slick or wet walking/working surfaces. Slips are commonly caused by: water, grease, oil, food, waste, dusts, powders, granules, and other matters.
You can help avoid slips by following these precautions:
· Wear appropriate slip resistant shoes.
· Pay attention and avoid distractions.
· Clean up or report spills right away.
· Don’t let grease/oil accumulate in your work area.
· Use hand railings when available.
· Take short steps when walking on slippery surfaces, avoid when possible.
· Be extra cautious when walking on smooth surfaces and surface transitions.
Trips occur whenever your foot hits an object and you are thrown off balance.
You can help avoid trips by following these precautions:
· Keep walking and working areas well lit.
· Don’t step where your eyes haven’t first seen.
· Watch for uneven or irregular walking surfaces.
· Take precautions around floor mats, ramps, and bumpers.
· Maintain the cleanliness and organization of your work area.
· Look for uncovered hoses, cables, wires, or extension cords in aisles or walkways.
· When you identify a trip hazard, take action to correct it, or report it to your supervisor.
The unfortunate result of slips and trips is a fall, which can pose a serious risk of injury. However, there are a few techniques you can use if you find yourself falling which help reduce the impact and risk of serious injury.
You can help reduce the risk of serious injury when falling by following these techniques:
Protect your head. The most important body part that you need to protect in a fall is your head.
· Tuck your chin down, lowering your head.
· If falling down, face first, turn your head to the side.
· Bring your arms up to head level for additional protection. Put them in front of your head if falling forwards or behind your head if falling backwards.
Turn as you fall. If you are falling either forward or backwards, turn your body so you land on your side. Falling directly on your back can cause serious injury. A frontal fall can cause damage to the head, face, and arms.
Keep arms and legs bent. Natural reaction may be to try to catch yourself when you fall. However, landing on your hands, arms, knees, or feet could cause a break or strain. Keep both arms and legs slightly bent as you fall.
Stay loose. Tensing up during a fall can increase your chances of sustaining an injury. The tension in your body won't allow for the absorption of force from the fall. Try breathing out as you fall to help keep your body relaxed.
Roll when appropriate. If you are able, a good technique to dissipate the force of a fall is to roll into it. By rolling, you send the energy of the fall into the roll, rather than your body absorbing the impact.
Spread out the force. The key to falling “safely” is to spread out the force of the impact over a large area of your body. By spreading out the impact, you reduce the chance of serious injury to a single part of the body.
Human Factors Increasing Risk of Slips, Trips, and Falls
· Poor eyesight and/or visual perception.
· Vision obstruction due to improper use or care of personal protective equipment.
· Physical condition.
· Fatigue, stress, or illness.
· Side effects of medications, alcohol consumption, and or drug use.
· Manual, visual, or cognitive distractions.
· Taking unapproved shortcuts.
· Carelessness or rushing.
Slips, Trips, and Falls Are Preventable
Slips, Trips, and Falls can be prevented by taking extra precautions such as: practicing good housekeeping, wearing proper slip-resistant footwear, being aware of your surroundings, and avoiding distractions. When slipping or tripping, falling “safely” is your best defense in reducing the risk of serious injury.